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Hollywood's Shooting Stars and the Real Story Behind Men's Orgasms

by Jim Gladstone

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday May 23, 2021
Originally published on May 18, 2021

Semen has made a splash on the big screen.

Once the strict province of pornography, the elixir of life has erupted into mainstream movies over recent decades, powering incredibly memorable scenes that are more than just money shots.

While semen is sometimes played by stunt doubles — including Cetaphil, a facial cleanser; methylcellulose, a laxative; and, in scenes that call for an overflowing mouthful, piña coladas — performers can generate spectacular ejaculations completely naturally, using Load Boost, a specially formulated supplement from VitaliBoost.

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Whether it's faked or Load Boost-ed, the way cum is depicted on the big screen has been markedly different in films that focus on heterosexuals and those that revel in homoeroticism.

In films focused on straight characters, ejaculate has primarily been used for gags, inciting a mixed response of yuks and yecchs in the likes of "There's Something About Mary" (though there is a certain hotness to Ben Stiller getting an earful); "Van Wilder" ("Ooh! They're still warm," gushes a frat boy over freshly baked éclairs); "American Pie" (Jason Biggs a la modes the title pastry and Seann William Scott, as Stifler, chugs a stiff drink); "Scary Movie" (Anna Faris gets glued to the ceiling); and "40 Days and 40 Nights," in which a wet-dreamy Josh Hartnett takes a foamy metaphorical load from an overworked washing machine.

But in queer and homoerotic cinema, semen is more complex, alluring, and desirable. Even in gay porn, cum is a source of mutual fun and excitement. And in more commercial queer films, semen has been used to explore sexual power dynamics, help represent romance, and, yes, to satisfy our, umm, thirst.

That latter function is quite literally highlighted in a groundbreaking scene from "Shortbus" (2006), queer icon John Cameron Mitchell's directorial follow-up to "Hedwig and the Angry Inch": Actor Paul Dawson plays James, whose sexually unfulfilling partnership ultimately leads him and his boyfriend to venture into threesomes. But before they go trio, James glories in solo satisfaction. What begins as the Plow position in a naked living room yoga session becomes a stunning moment of self-pleasure as the impressively flexible Dawson first takes his own member into his mouth, then pulls it out, parts his lips, and drenches his face.

And it's not just edgy indies like "Shortbus" that have put a spotlight on spunk. Twenty-first-century cinema has elevated "masturbate" to Oscar bait. Not one, but two, Academy Award-nominated feature films have openly celebrated ejaculation.

In 2001, Alfonso Cuarón and his brother Carlos got a Best Original Screenplay nod for "Y Tu Mamá También," in which budding studs Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna play road-tripping teens whose many homoerotic moments include a classic scene in which the two youths lie beside each other on parallel diving boards and wank arcs of semen into the chlorinated blue below. (Cuarón featured another sort of blast off in his Best Director Oscar-winning film "Gravity.")

More recently, "Call Me By Your Name" was in the running for four statuettes, including Best Picture, winning Best Adapted Screenplay for James Ivory. Nominated as Best Actor for his role as lovestruck teen Elio, Timothée Chalamet rose to the challenge of literalizing a certain fruity emoji. Playing older paramour Oliver, a pre-cannibal-controversy Armie Hammer languorously dipped a finger into Elio's ejaculate and made like T.S. Eliot — "Do I dare to eat a peach?"

Gay men, like filmmakers, understand that visual aesthetics make a difference. Whether on set or in the bedroom at home, the most exciting orgasms feature jolting propulsion and thick, not-too-sticky ejaculate. They also know that you can't fake star quality — well-honed skills, good preparation, and a sense of confidence are essential to every performance.

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Jim Gladstone is a San Francisco-based writer and creative strategist.